A recent People magazine story reported on a “paralyzed bride” whose college friend offered to be her pregnancy surrogate. Rachelle Friedman’s neck had been broken at her bachelorette party when one of her bridesmaids playfully pushed her. Fast forward a few years later, and Friedman and her husband Chris Chapman anxiously await the birth of their first child via Rachelle’s college friend Laurel Humes, who has agreed to be their surrogate.
“My husband was a sperm donor for some of our friends, a same-sex couple, and that inspired me to think about surrogacy,” said Humes. “I’m really excited. I know Chris and Rachelle will be great parents and I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they get to hold their baby for the first time.”
Media accounts of modern-day reproductive technologies often lead with such narratives — tragic stories that make addressing the ethical issues in play difficult, if not impossible. First, we hear of a couple struggling with infertility, and then of the gracious fertile person who provides said couple with the “gift of life.” Sometimes, the people who seek surrogacy are biologically unable to conceive (as with same-sex couples or people who have chosen to be single). Sometimes, it’s a heterosexual couple struggling with infertility, in some cases because the couple simply waited too long while pursuing advancements in their careers or education. In all these stories, the third party donor is selfless and saintly, offering their eggs, sperm, and/or wombs. In the Friedman case, Laurel Humes’ husband had already “given the gift of life” in donating sperm to a same-sex couple.
Visitors to fertility websites see only slick advertising — they do not hear the stories of the surrogates.
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